Battle Trust’s shock at no Historic Scotland objection to plans for substation on part of battle site
Historic Scotland has rejected calls for it to back opposition to plans for a substation on part of the site of the Battle of Prestonpans.
Despite confirming the proposed development by Inchcape Offshore Wind Farm Ltd sits within the historic battlefield site, the organisation has declined to intervene.
Instead, it has written to East Lothian Council’s planners to say it does not object to the development, saying the impact is “not so adverse as to raise issues of national significance such as we would object”.
The decision has stunned opponents to the substation, particularly the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust 1745, whose members expected the agency, which holds a National Directory of Historic Battlefields, to oppose the plans.
Dr Gordon Prestoungrange, trustee and former chairman of the trust, has written to planners voicing his disbelief at Historic Scotland’s stance.
He said: “Frankly we at the Battle Trust are incredulous.
“To suggest the proposal does not raise issues of national significance is beyond belief, bearing in mind that the land itself is listed in the National Inventory so lately completed.
“We have devoted time and much energy since 2006 to ensuring the conservation and interpretation of the battlefield. At no time has Historic Scotland consulted with the Battle Trust on site prior to reaching its conclusions.”
The Battle of Prestonpans is recognised by Historic Scotland as the first significant conflict in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, resulting in the defeat of the Government army in Scotland.
It paved the way for a major escalation in recruitment to the Jacobite cause and made possible the march into England by the Jacobite army in November of that year.
Historic Scotland said it welcomed revisions made to the original proposals by Inchcape, which had moved the substation to the north of the land, after initial concerns about it crossing the historic Waggonway were raised.
The architects at Inchcape moved the proposed site of the substation to one corner of the land and reduced its size to try and minimise the impact.
Historic Scotland told the council: “While we consider there will be an impact upon the battlefield we recognise and welcome revisions to the scheme which have sought to minimise impacts within the limitations of the land available.”
However, it added: “The area affected relates to an area where fighting is known to have taken place, albeit towards the periphery of the area.
“Although recent evidence has suggested that the fighting took place further to the east, and this further away from the development location, there nevertheless remains potential for archaeological remains to be disturbed should the development proceed.”
The trust believes Inchcape should be looking at building the substation on adjoining land already designated as “brownfield”, such as the site of the decommissioned coal stores owned by ScottishPower.
Dr Prestoungrange said: “There is extensive brownfield land further north where good sense and operational effectiveness would readily suggest it should be located.”
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